Margaret Sanger, "My Way to Peace," 17 Jan. 1932.
Typed speech. Source: MSMMargaret Sanger Papers, Library of Congress 130:198 .
Speech delivered by Mrs. Sanger before the New History Society at the Park Lane Hotel, New York, on January 17, 1932. Shortened published versions can be found as "A Plan for Peace" Birth Control Review, April 1932, 107-08 (MSM S71:532) and "Margaret Sanger's Plan for Peace," New Historian No. 5, February 1932, 5-6 (LCM 65:3698.) Sanger drafted a "revised" version of this article, "My Way to World Peace," on Feb. 19, 1932, that includes the first three pages of this speech as its closer. For other drafts see MSM S71:348 and LCM 65:358A, 130:390. See "Questions and Answers by Mrs. Margaret Sanger at Conclusion of her Speech" for a transcription of the question-and-answer session following the speech.
Science has been applied to the various channels of life’s needs especially to our environment. Industry, commerce, education, hygiene, surgery, agriculture, dairy, factory, mining and even war have had the benefits of the best that science could command; but it has not yet been applied to improving the quality of life itself nor to the maintenance of PEACE.
MY WAY TO PEACE would be First, to put into action the fourteen points of President Wilson’s, upon which Germany and Austria surrendered to the Allies. Second, to have Congress set up a special department for the study of population problems, and appoint a Parliament of Population Directors representing the various branches of science.
This body to direct and control the population through Birth rates and immigration, and direct its distribution over the country according to national needs consistent with the taste, fitness and interest of the individuals.
The main objects of the Population Congress would be:
(a) to raise the level and increase the general intelligence of our population.
(b) to increase the population slowly by keeping the birth rate at its present level of fifteen, decreasing the death rate below its present mark of 11.
(c) keep the doors of Immigration closed to the entrance of certain aliens whose condition is known to be detrimental to the stamina of the race, such as feeble-minded, idiots, morons, insane, syphiletic, epileptic, criminal, professional prostitutes, and others in this class barred from entrance by the Immigration Laws of 1924.
(d) apply a stern and rigid policy of sterilization, and segregation to that grade of population whose progeny is already tainted or whose inheritance is such that objectionable traits may be transmitted to offspring.
(e) to insure the country against future burdens of maintenance for numerous offspring as may be born of feeble-minded parents, the government would pension all persons with transmissible disease who voluntarily consent to sterilization.
(f) the whole dysgenic population would have its choice of segregation or sterilization.
(g) there would be farm lands and homesteads where these segregated persons would be taught to work under competent instructors for the period of their entire lives.
The first step would thus be to control the intake and output on morons, mental defectives, epileptics.
The second step would be to take an inventory of the secondary group such as illiterates, paupers, unemployables, criminals, prostitutes, dope-fiends; classify them in special departments under government medical protection and segregate on farms and open spaces as long as necessary for the strengthening and development of moral conduct.
Having coralled this enormous part of our population and placed it on a basis of health not punishment, it is safe to say that about fifteen or twenty millions of our population would then be organized into soldiers of defense–-defending the unborn against their own disabilities.
The third step would be to give special attention to the mothers’ health, to see that women who are suffering from tuberculosis, heart or kidney disease, toxis goitre, gonorrhea, or any disease where the condition of pregnancy disturbs her health; place these mothers under public health nurses to instruct them in practical scientific methods of contraception in order to safeguard their lives–thus reducing maternal mortality.
There would be a careful follow-up in the homes where infants have died, to ascertain the causes and to prevent when possible the further increase of children until the causes have been removed–-reducing infant mortality.
While the above steps seem to be emphasis on a health program instead of on tariffs, moratoriums and debts, I believe that national health is the first essential factor in any program for universal peace.
With the future citizens safeguarded from hereditary taints, with five million mental and moral degenerates segregated, with ten million women and ten million children receiving adequate attention, we could then turn our attention to the basic needs for international peace.
There would then be a definite inexorable ruling that the population should increase slowly at a specified rate, in order to accommodate and adjust the increasing numbers to our social and economic system.
The Birth Rate in the United States in 1931 was 15.0 and the death rate about 11, which allowed for a survival rate of 4%, or an increase in the population, including immigration, of over 20%.
Immigration: Open the gates of the U.S.A. to those countries whose inhabitants have the inherent talents and national characteristics desirable, eliminating entirely those countries whose subjects have already been difficult to assimilate.
This plan to be in operation for ten years. In the meantime we shall organize and join an International League of Low Birth Rate Nations to secure and maintain WORLD PEACE.
Copyright 2003. Margaret Sanger Project